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COVID-19 pandemic: U of T Engineering stories

Paul Chen (ChemE PhD 2T2) has earned a Schmidt Science Fellowship for his research into engineering and nanotechnology. He is among only 29 Fellows from around the world in the 2022 cohort. (Photo: Dewey Chang)

U of T Engineering researcher Paul Chen earns Schmidt Science Fellowship

Growing up in Texas, then later in Calgary, Paul Chen (ChemE PhD 2T2) wasn’t too sure what he wanted from his career — but he did know that he loved building. “When I was little, this meant using Lego bricks, cards, cassette tapes and anything else I could get my hands on. My family still jokes that I discovered countless...
The DREAM Laboratory constructed and tested 12 different face masks, and used a sweating thermal manikin to validate if there was a correlation between face mask discomfort and the level of protection the mask offers. (Photo: Farzan Gholamreza)

Are safer masks more uncomfortable? New U of T Engineering study offers answers

Wearing a face mask, when combined with other protective measures, has been shown to help slow the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. But there are still many misconceptions about the relationship between a mask’s level of protection and its comfort. Professor Kevin Golovin (MIE) — along with his Durable Repellent Engineered Advanced Material (DREAM) Laboratory research team — recently completed...
Members of U of T’s SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance team stand together on the rooftop of the Wallberg Building. (Photo: Daria Perevezentsev)

Tracking community transmission: Researchers advance COVID-19 variant detection in GTA wastewater

As Ontario continues its gradual easing of COVID-19 public health measures, continued vigilance is necessary for governments to manage the virus in the long-term. A team including members of U of T Engineering’s BioZone is helping to improve alternative monitoring strategies. One important and cost-effective tool that can help track trends in community transmission, and detect new variants of concern,...
Professor Milica Radisic (BME, ChemE) and Rick Lu (BME PhD candidate) observe the InVADE system (Photo: Jennifer Kieda)

Organ-on-a-chip research identifies new strategy for treating health complications associated with COVID-19

Using their novel organ-on-a-chip platform, a U of T Engineering research team has identified a molecule with the potential to combat one of the most severe complications of COVID-19 infections.  The molecule, a novel anti-inflammatory peptide called QHREDGS, does not act on the virus directly. Instead, it works to prevent a potentially life-threatening immune reaction known as a cytokine storm. ...
Professor Jeffrey Siegel (CivMin) shows an air filter in a lab setting. (Photo: Daria Perevezentsev)

Indoor air quality expert shares tips to stay safe over the holidays

As new cases of COVID-19 soar, many jurisdictions across Canada are increasing measures to slow down infections from the highly transmissible Omicron variant. Public health officials are calling for further capacity limits in indoor spaces and imploring people to reduce social contacts over the next several weeks.   Writer Phill Snel spoke with indoor air quality expert Professor Jeffrey Siegel (CivMin), to discuss what we have learned about virus spread and what we might do to mitigate transmission. This interview has been condensed and edited for length...
A device developed at U of T's Institute of Biomedical Engineering makes use of an ordinary smartphone camera to rapidly detect COVID-19. (Image courtesy Johnny Zhang and Ayden Malekjahani)

Researchers develop a quantum dot smartphone device to diagnose and track COVID-19

Researchers at the University of Toronto (Institute of Biomedical Engineering, Department of Chemistry, Donnelly Centre for Cellular and Biomolecular Research) in collaboration with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Public Health Ontario, and Mt. Sinai Hospital have engineered a diagnostic test that makes use of a smartphone camera to surveil and track COVID-19 patients. This finding could significantly improve the turnaround time...
Narinder Dhami (Skoll ElecE 0T5 + MBA 08) formed a coalition of South Asian community leaders to respond to the emergency situation in India. The coalition created the India COVID-19 Relief Fund to help facilitate donations from Canadians.

U of T Engineering alumna sets up funding initiative to help India recover from COVID-19

The scale of the COVID-19 emergency in India has Canadians looking for ways to help. But many are unsure where to direct their donations because of the vast number of relief efforts. A funding initiative spearheaded by U of T Engineering alumna Narinder Dhami (Skoll ElecE 0T5 + MBA 08) cuts through the confusion so donors can easily make charitable, tax-receipted gifts...
Professors Timothy Chan (left) and Vahid Sarhangian (right) comment on the ICU capacity issues in Ontario due to COVID-19. (Photo credit, from left to right: Pam Walls and Liz Do)

How modelling informs tough ICU decisions during COVID-19: U of T Engineering researchers explain

Last month, an Ontario Health official warned that reaching 900 COVID-19 patients in its intensive care units (ICU) could trigger a triage protocol, in which some of the province’s oldest and sickest patients would not receive the highest level of care available. Ontario only narrowly averted this life-or-death scenario. The pandemic has shone a light on the difficult decisions that...
The ongoing pandemic has tested Canada’s vaccine production capabilities and highlighted the need for a national strategy. (Photo: Spencer Davis via Unsplash)

With vaccines top of mind, U of T brings together experts to address Canada’s biomanufacturing gaps

The University of Toronto is bringing together researchers, pharmaceutical innovators and government partners to address gaps in Canada’s biomanufacturing ecosystem and discuss solutions for public health challenges such as COVID-19. A Biomanufacturing Training & Innovation Workshop hosted by U of T recently drew nearly 100 attendees from academia, government and industry to discuss strategies and priorities related to biomanufacturing training,...
Materials Science & Engineering (MSE) teaching assistant Crystal Liu designed, sourced and mailed 50 lab kits for students to build a mini mechanical tester from home. (Photo courtesy Crystal Liu)

‘Assemble it like IKEA furniture:’ U of T Engineering TA creates build-at-home machine to enable hands-on remote learning

In February, U of T Engineering students in MSE398: Materials Manufacturing and Design Laboratory received a package in the mail. Inside was a lab kit, with components — mechanical parts, electrical components, a printed circuit board (PCB), and tools — to build an at-home mini mechanical tester machine for their labs. “You assemble the pieces like IKEA furniture,” says teaching...


Fahad Pinto
Communications & Media Relations Strategist